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Volume 2, Number 33              September 22 - 28,  2002            Quezon City, Philippines

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Dutch Clergymen Express Support for Prof. Sison

By the Committee to Defend Filipino Progressives Abroad (DEFEND)

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In a press conference on the plight of Prof. Jose Maria Sison, two Dutch clergymen, Archbishop Joris Vercammen of the Old Catholic Church of Utrecht and Dominee Hans Visser of Paulus Kerk of Rotterdam, expressed their dismay and disapproval of the actions taken by the Dutch government to brand Prof. Sison as a terrorist and cut off the social benefits due him as a political refugee.

Dominee Visser said that he had consistently supported Prof. Sison’s long-running fight for asylum and residence in the Netherlands.  He has supported the campaign launched by sympathizers, friends and concerned citizens to press the Dutch government to grant Prof. Sison’s asylum application in the face of pressure exerted by the US and Philippine governments to reject such application.

Dominee Visser said that he found it ridiculous for the Dutch government to put Prof. Sison in the same league as Osama bin Laden.

Archbishop Vercammen for his part expressed concern that the actions of the US and Dutch governments to brand the CPP, NPA and Prof. Sison as “terrorists” would have dire implications on the peace negotiations between the Manila government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).  He read portions of a letter sent to him by Supreme Bishop Tomas A. Millamena of the Philippine Independent Church criticizing Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for jumping on the bandwagon of the US’s so-called “war against terrorism”,   suspending the peace negotiations and launching an all-out war against the forces of the NDFP.

Archbishop Vercammen said that the real problem in the Philippines is the poverty that he saw for himself during his recent visit to the Philippines.  He said that the peace negotiations between the Manila government and the NDFP must be resumed and must tackle the problem of poverty.

In the same press conference, Prof. Sison recalled that as soon as he learned that thousands of civilians were killed in the September 11 attacks, he expressed sorrow and sympathy to the families, friends and the entire American people and condemned the acts of terrorism.  But he also said that the American people must reflect on why the US government, its armed forces and big business firms arouse so much hatred in the world.

He pointed to the fact that the US was responsible for the killing of 1.4 million Filipinos from the start of the Filipino-American war in 1899 to the end of the so-called pacification campaigns in 1914.  It was also the US who instigated Marcos to declare martial law in the Philippines and supported his dictatorial regime that victimized tens of thousands of Filipinos who were jailed, tortured, disappeared and summarily executed.  The terrorism of Al Qaeda pales in comparison to these crimes, he said.

Sison said that by following the baton of the US in designating the CPP and NPA as “terrorists” and taking punitive actions against suspected members of the said organizations, the Dutch government was running counter to its own commitment to facilitate the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations and to the 1997 and 1999 resolutions of the Europarliament which endorse and support these negotiations. 

Dominee Visser said that he supports Prof. Sison’s fight for his basic right to life.  He said: “It is a stupid decision to deprive Prof. Sison of his basic needs.”  He said that he would continue to support  Prof. Sison’s asylum case and the resumption of the peace negotiations. 

 Archbishop Vercammen said that if the Dutch government is aware of the importance of the peace negotiations, then the Dutch government must take a different position and not always follow what the US government wants because the US has its own agenda and its own interests.

For more information, contact:

Ruth de Leon

Committee DEFEND  

tel. 030-2368722

email: defenddemrights@yahoo.com

September 18, 2002   Bulatlat.com

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